Panorama of my town

Panorama of my town

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Lion Who Has My Vote

I love Congressman John Lewis.  He represents me and I could not be more proud.  Today he gave me a big smile and hug and I could feel the lion's heart that beats inside that calm, gentle chest. He talked to me about his busy day of meetings on a Saturday and his plans to be back in DC for the State of the Union address.  I told him we Mid-Fulton County Dems were planning a watch party and would look for him in the audience.  He was pleased by our plans.

We both get our nails done at the same shop in midtown off of Ponce de Leon.  He entered the salon quietly and to no fanfare.  No one looked up or whispered to each other and pointed as he took off his shoes and settled into a chair.  Respectful staff and clients did not try to shake his hand or chat as he closed his eyes to enjoy the message chair.  But his presence was tangible and known.

He stopped by my chair on his way out the door to give me a hug and to chat for a brief moment. I love his voice.  It's a familiar and reassuring voice. I have listen to his gentle personal stories and impassioned public speeches since I was a child.  I love the one about him preaching to the chickens as a young boy.   I trust him.  I believe in him.

This ATLGal stands behind the people who have stood strong against incredible odds and in the face of inhuman conditions to make our lives better and our futures brighter.   People like John Lewis.   He is my Congressman and he is my lion, and for as long as he puts his name on my ballot then he will have my vote.

An Old Friend is getting the respect she deserves

This ATLGal thinks Sears/City Hall East/Ponce City Market has a GREAT advocate and very creative owner/developer. Thank you, Jamestown and Greenstreet Properties, for keeping your promise.
I was in the building just yesterday. A chill of excitement and anticipation runs up my spine each time I step foot inside the halls of that old friend. I practically giggle out-loud as I push open the huge doors. You can't imagine the goofy look of child-like excitement on my face under my white Ponce City Market hard-hat as I stroll through the building.

Out comes the cell phone/camera. I take silly pictures of obscure corners and halls - click. I ask someone to take a picture of me against some indescribable part of the building - click! Which I then promptly post to Facebook (smile). As we stand waiting for the giant freight elevator to take us up 2 floors, Walter Brown points down and reminds me that the floor we are standing on will be a parking deck - click! We exit the elevator and Walter points up and describes the portion of the ceiling to be removed to construct a 2-story atrium - click!!!

I refrain from yet again telling stories of clothes shopping on this floor or the catalog store on that floor, but for a moment I am 8 years old and shopping with my mom - for just a moment, a long time ago......

As we walk through the neatest construction site I have ever seen, past stacks of separated metals and across modestly dusty floors, I am impressed with the level of reuse and recycling. Thrilled to listen to Walter talk about the life that will be coming back to this building and the work of the good stewards who are gonna make it happen. Then I saw this article.

Don't ask me why I was on the Waste Management World web site! LOL

This ATLGal appreciates Walter for letting me visit with a dear old friend and I want my neighbors to know that I think Jamestown and Greenstreet are taking very good care of her. Thanks to good work by people with heart and vision she is getting the respectful renovation she deserves.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Street Cars in Downtown Atlanta- YES!!

As a young child this ATL Gal lived on Peachtree St. in what is now referred to as the historic ‘Margaret Mitchell House’ but my family had always called it 'The Dump'. Insiders at the time actually knew it as ‘The Palazzo’ but that is a story for another time. I don’t remember much of those days myself except brief snippets of memories - just pictures in my mind’s eye. I can see out our apartment window on the ground floor facing Cresent Ave. covered by a deep blanket of shiny white snow making everything look like the fairy tale landscape from one of my books.

I don’t remember street cars on Peachtree. They were gone in 1962 when I lived on Peachtree. But my mom remembers them. She remembers riding them and the sound of the clanging bells and screeching brakes and the wires overhead as she hopped one to take her to work. I have no memory of any of that. Oh, but I am so very excited about the idea that they are coming back to Peachtree St.  I may not have ever seen street cars in Atlanta but I have seen them in Barcelona, Spain and in Geneva, Switzerland and they are AWESOME cool!!

Resident use them, Tourists adore them. Car drivers maneuver smoothly around and beside them. I never took a taxi while I was in either city – we took transit to almost everywhere, at almost any time. Barcelona, a huge sprawling city with thick air and life that ebbs and flow 24 hours a day with the tide of millions of people in cars and taxis, on motorcycles and scooters, zipping and skimming all over a bustling and brightly lit town has a fantastic metro system. It was a thrill to ride trains and trams that took me and millions living and visiting the city anywhere we needed to go. It was reasonably priced, clean, safe and on time. Brilliant!! The entire time I kept saying to my friend ‘Atlanta could to this, too!!’

Geneva could not be more different from Barcelona than night is from day. It is a quaint town with crisp air, surrounded by villages on hills and embraced on all sides by the most breathtaking, snow topped, mountains I have ever seen. Streets are narrow and sidewalks wide, but it has one thing in common with Barcelona, a tram system that gets its residents and tourist where they need to go – anywhere, anytime. It too is brilliant and I kept saying to my friend ’Atlanta could do this, too!’ I sounded like a broken record as we traipsed all over Europe and never had to rent a car.

Don't pay attention to naysayers and people with no vision for our beautiful City’s future. I close my eyes and can see street cars on Peachtree St and Edgewood Ave (once again). I can imagine the day when we have an urban Streetcar system that takes City residents and tourist anywhere, anytime, just like I enjoyed in Europe. The decision to build such a system has nothing to do with size of our city today. It has everything to do with the needs of citizens of Atlanta and our children's tomorrows. We all have the same need, same as Barcelonans, same as the Genua, we need reliable inner-city public transit. We need leaders with vision and the backbone to do what is right and then will to defend it when this vision for our future is losing the ‘popularity contest.’

This ATL Gal wants to be on the 1st streetcar ride down Auburn Ave.! Wonder if they’ll let me ring the bell?